In the sixth installment of the Dean's List series for the 2013 NHL Draft, the top 30 ranked players are released based on their play up to November 30th. The 2013 draft crop is setting up to be one of the best in recent years especially when considering the depth and talent of first round talent. With about 15 or more players worthy of a top 10 selection there are plenty of future impact NHLers available to NHL teams this upcoming summer.
Throughout the top 30, there are several notable battles taking place as players jostle for position. At the top of the ranks, Nathan MacKinnon versus Seth Jones is the headlining event on this fight card as both possess rare franchise potential and will challenge each other all season long. "Sasha" Barkov has been pushing MacKinnon and Jones as this late birthday boy has ramped up his game this season but he currently sits inTDL’s second tier of players including the offensive Jonathan Drouin and two-way forwards Sean Monahan and Elias Lindholm.
At the 2012 NHL Draft, eight of the opening 10 selections were defensemen, and while this year's crop has a few standout defenders discussed in top 10 talks, the forwards are receiving the highest praise. However, one of TDL's favourites is two-way defenseman Ryan Pulock, who is a player capable of unleashing a cannon of a slapshot. On Pulock's heels is Finnish defender Rasmus Ristoläinon, a big strong player with great pro potential who packs a good physical game combined with solid puck-moving skills.
Joining Pulock and Ristoläinon in the "third tier of prospects" is WHL sniper Hunter Shinkaruk of Medicine Hat, Russian forward Valeri Nichushkin, mobile two-way defenseman Josh Morrissey (another TDL favourite) and offensive pivot Max Domi of the London Knights.
In reality, there are probably about 20-25 players who could slide into the "fourth tier" of draft eligibles and challenge for a selection anywhere from 10th to 30th overall. By all means, none of these players are cemented into their tiers as each one of them possesses rare talents that could move them up in The Dean's List's Draft Rankings. For example, Curtis Lazar, Bo Horvat, Jason Dickinson, Adam Erne, André Burakovsky and J.T. Compher are all very responsible forwards with good scoring touches and all have the intangibles and skill set to warrant a high selection. TDL remains very high on each of these players because of their high likelihood to find a role in the NHL. However, these six players slide a little lower (for now) because they possess lower upsides compared to other players in higher tiers.
Two notable defensemen, Robert Hägg and Darnell Nurse, remain in our scouting crosshairs as potential standout NHL defensemen. Nurse has been climbing the rankings since mid-season last year and continues to impress with his elite mobility, emerging offensive skills and a strong defensive game. Robert Hägg has been a defenseman that has been coveted from an early age as his ability to control the pace of the game, skate fluidly and hammer a hard accurate shot remains extremely enticing.
Always an interesting battle, keep a close eye on big aggressive netminder Spencer Martin as he battles the athletic and mobile Zach Fucale of the Halifax Mooseheads for the top goaltender position. Over the opening few months of hockey, The Dean's List has made note of a few emerging names to keep tabs on as they continue to surge up the rankings, some of them cracking the Top 30 list already. Swedish forward Alexander Wennberg is quickly becoming a favourite with his complete game that features fine-tuned offensive and defensive skills.
Shea Theodore, 6'2", is finding his groove on Seattle’s blue line as he sits among the defensive scoring leaders and really displays an intelligent game. Budding power forward Frédérik Gauthier has moved quickly up scouting lists, including our own, with his ability to play responsibly at both ends of the rink and is showing an improved offensive game clipping along at over a point-per-game. Anthony Mantha currently leads QMJHL scoring with 25 goals and is one of The Dean's List personal favourites with his massive offensive potential. Other players to keep an eye on are Tyler Hill (LW, Muskegon, USHL), Nic Petan (C, Portland, WHL), Juuso Ikonen (LW, Blues, SM-liiga), Chris Bigras (D, Owen Sound, OHL) and Keaton Thompson (D, USNTDP, USHL) as their strong play pushes them into first round consideration for the first time.
Top 30 Rankings for 2013 NHL Draft:
1. Nathan MacKinnon, C (Halifax, QMJHL)
2. Seth Jones, D (Portland, WHL)
3. Aleksander Barkov, C (Tappara, SM-liiga)
4. Jonathan Drouin, LW (Halifax, QMJHL)
5. Sean Monahan, C (Ottawa, OHL)
6. Elias Lindholm, C (Brynäs, SWE)
7. Ryan Pulock, D (Brandon, WHL)
8. Rasmus Ristoläinon, D (TPS, SM-liiga)
9. Hunter Shinkaruk, LW (Medicine Hat, WHL)
10. Valeri Nichushkin, C (Chelyabinsk, RUS)
11. Josh Morrissey, D (Prince Albert, WHL)
12. Max Domi, C (London, OHL)
13. Curtis Lazar, C (Edmonton, WHL)
14. Adam Erne, RW (Quebec, QMJHL)
15. André Burakovsky, RW (Malmö, SWE)
16. Jason Dickinson, LW (Guelph, OHL)
17. Darnell Nurse, D (Sault Ste. Marie, OHL)
18. Robert Hägg, D (Modo, SWE)
19. Bo Horvat, C (London, OHL)
20. Artturi Lekhonen, RW (KalPa, FIN)
21. J.T. Compher, C/LW (USNTDP, USHL)
22. Steve Santini, D (USNTDP, USHL)
23. Kerby Rychel, LW (Windsor, OHL)
24. Spencer Martin, G (Mississauga, OHL)
25. Zachary Fucale, G (Halifax, QMJHL)
26. Alexander Wennberg, C (Djurgarden, SWE)
27. Anthony Mantha, LW (Val d’Or, QMJHL)
28. Frédérik Gauthier, C (Rimouski, QMJHL)
29. Anthony Duclair, LW (Quebec, QMJHL)
30. Shea Theodore, D (Seattle, WHL)
Please continue to follow The Dean’s List series as we track the 2013 NHL Entry Draft prospects. Follow on Twitter @RossyYoungblood